Donk, there it is!

In Autumn of 2011 I went to 6 Battle Roads, had lots of fun, and took home 3 Victory Cups. This Spring, however, was not being so nice. I’ve only been to 2, though I did make Top 4 with Kyurem.

There was, however, a chance to hit up 2 more over one weekend.

pokemon-paradijs.comOn Saturday, I went to Sutton Coldfield with a Troll-like deck featuring Terrakion NVI, Landorus NVI, Mewtwo EX, and Tornadus EX. I did ok, beating 2 Empoleon DEX decks and finishing with a 3-2 record, but my losses upset me somewhat.

I lost to my good friend Tommy Roberts’ CMT after he went first, got a T1 KO on Smeargle, and got another Energy into play via Celebi. I fought back and brought it to 1-1 on prizes where, for many turns, either a PlusPower, Catcher, OR Junk Arm would win me the game. And we N’d each other. For about 6 turns in a row.

Every turn I would half-kill something, and he’d retreat for something fresh and N me. I’d then N him and half-kill the new Pokémon. Eventually, he had a full bench and every Pokémon on his field had less than 100 HP (within range of my Tornadus EX). He then proceeded to topdeck a Catcher the turn before I was guaranteed the win. Gutted.

My other loss was to (also already qualified for Worlds) George Boon’s Darkrai EX / Tornadus EX. I started well and half-killed 3 EXs, but then I drew dead for 3 turns during which time he healed all his EXs, KO’d my Landorus and Terrakion and removed all my Energy from the field. Touché sir.

Now, really I should have played this again for the Battle Roads in Sheffieldon Sunday, as I started really getting to grips with the deck. However, I really wanted to play my ZPST with Terrakion, and I knew this was the last small tournament where I could. So I did. Here’s my list:

Pokémon – 15

3 Smeargle UD

2 Zekrom BLW
2 Mewtwo-EX NXD
2 Tornadus EX
2 Pachirisu CL
2 Shaymin UL
1 Terrakion NVI
1 Zekrom-EX

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory

2 N

1 Professor Juniper

2 Random Receiver


4 Junk Arm

4 Super Scoop Up
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Switch

3 Dual Ball
2 Level Ball
2 PlusPower


2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 13

8 L
2 F
3 Double Colorless

There’s a few things here I’ll explain very quickly:

3 Smeargle, 7 Supporters?!

pokemon-paradijs.comVery simply, I wanted to use my opponents’ Supporters and stop them from using mine. If your opponent started with a PONT, this is amazing. However, if your opponent starts slow, there’s a chance you’ll have nothing of your own and also start slow.


Darkrai is popular so I thought I’d give it a go. I was playing 2 Terrakion and 3 F Energy, but I cut down due to Terrakion being a terrible starter, and an early 2 Energy Pachi is almost always better than an early F Energy.

4 Super Scoop Up

Nobody expects 4. Awesome for healing and also for re-using Pachi and Shaymin. More than anything, your bench fills very quickly with this deck and you need Scoop Ups. Ideally, I want a Seeker, but that stops you playing Random Receiver and with so few Supporters you can’t play Pokégear 3.0. (I regularly had to go 15-20 cards deep with Random Receiver to find a Supporter.)

There might be a couple of other things that look out place. If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments. I usually answer.

Round 1: Phil (Gothitelle EPO 47 / Gardevoir NXD / Mewtwo EX / Gengar Prime)

Phil is a guy I’ve met a couple times before. He’s a nice guy and a local Sheffield player who doesn’t travel too much. He always tends to play inventive decks, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect!

Game 1

He wins the flip and goes first, starting Mewtwo. This was fine as I play Mewtwo, DCE, and PlusPower so I sense a couple of easy prizes fairly quick. And then… nothing. I cannot get anything going.

My lack of Supporters is fine because of a heavy count of Smeargle, Switch, and Skyarrow, but he also played very few Supporters. This meant that I whiffed mine and he used his as soon as he got them, leaving me unable to copy them.

His Mewtwo took 4 Prizes and then, just as it was starting to look hopeless, I managed to get a Zekrom-EX up. I’d been building it on the bench while he’d been unable to find a Catcher. Better than that though, I also got a PlusPower and Junk Arm. This allowed me a 1HKO on his Mewtwo.

From here I was then able to sweep as he had no Energy acceleration and was unable to KO my Zekrom. When I pulled the Zekrom trick he was one turn away from winning!

Game 2

I started much better this game. I got an early Tornadus EX with a Skyarrow out and that is lethal for a set-up deck with 60 HP or less Basics. I took out 4 of these with Tornadus and then as he dropped a Mewtwo, I used a Shaymin to power up my own and take my last 2 Prizes.


Well, I was 1-0, but I was not feeling confident. My deck was not working as I’d hoped and I was feeling nervous about having another 3 rounds with this. I changed my expectations to breaking even and figured that winning 1 of the next 3 games wasn’t all that unrealistic!

Round 2: Clayton (Gothitelle / Gardevoir / Mewtwo / Darmanitan NXD)

Yep. Another game against this deck. Except no Gengar in this one. And added Darmanitan. Still, Clayton’s a top man and the games we’ve had in the past have been really friendly. This one would be no different.

Game 1

I started double Smeargle in this game which is usually good, but alas he didn’t have any Supporters and I couldn’t find one of my seven, so for the first two turns I didn’t really do much of anything.

I did get a Skyarrow in play though which allowed me to copy his Team Rocket’s Trickery twice on turn 3 and his Cheren twice on turn 4. This allowed me to get a Zekrom going, getting the Bolt Strike KO on a Darumaka and then Outrage KOs on 3 other Basics.

Game 2

I again went second (boo), but I did manage to get an early Zekrom-EX! I sat there taking 4 Prizes and feeling pretty darn smug and then… it all fell apart. He for a Mewtwo up (with a Gardevoir on the bench) and managed to get a 1HKO on my Zekrom.

Usually in this situation I would just promote my own Mewtwo, attach a DCE and win. Unfortunately I had used all 3 DCEs while using Zekrom’s “Strong Volt.” This meant that I had no way to power up my Mewtwo in one turn and he swept to victory.

Game 3

He started lone Ralts and I started Tornadus EX. I had the Skyarrow, but then only had a F Energy, not a DCE. I played a Juniper hoping to draw into the DCE but whiffed, drawing a F Energy, L Energy, Level Ball, and Junk Arm (amongst other things).

I was just to pass when I realised I was being an idiot, attached the F Energy, used Level Ball for Pachi, played him down using Self-Generation to attach the Lightning and then was able to Junk Arm for the Level Ball to get the Shaymin to move the energy to Tornadus to get the KO!


Well, if nothing else this meant that I could not get a negative record. I was not feeling comfortable with my deck though and I figured I would now be playing one of the top players. Still, a win here should mean top-2.

I was beginning to wish I’d brought my other deck as I think I could have won my first 2 games more easily (better matchups) and it would then give me a better chance in round 3 than the ZPSTT abomination I had brought instead.

Round 3: “My Good Friend” Tommy (Meganium Prime)

pokemon-paradijs.comYep, my good friend Tommy Roberts. Number one in the world on Championship Points. He’d brought a Meganium deck (Klinklang but he didn’t have them on him so he borrowed some Meganiums… and pre-evolutions!) after winning 5/10 games against Darkrai in testing. He was coming off a victory against George Boon’s Darkrai / Tornadus so this was not a bad deck, nor would it be an easy win.

This match did hold greater significance for me though. My tournament record against Tommy had slipped to 5-4 after horrendous luck led my Kyurem to be defeated by his Mismagius CL / Terrakion NVI in top-4-of a recent Battle Road (a match which should have been a near auto-won, and was in Swiss of that same tournament). A win here would draw him level…

Game 1

I won the coin flip for the first time today and though I whiffed the T1 attack I was still able to get a T2 KO on his Chikorita using a Catcher. I then took out 2 more Chikoritas and a Bayleef while he tried in vain to get a Meganium up and I was able to draw a steady stream of Catchers and Junk Arms. It later turned out that 2-of his 3 Meganiums were prized, leading to the difficulty.

By the time I had taken 4 Prizes he had manually charged up a Darkrai and promoted it to hit my Tornadus for 90. Unfortunately for Tommy I had managed to get a lot of Energy into play by now (3 DCE and 2 double Pachi drops) and I was able to drop a Mewtwo and Shaymin for the win.

Game 2

Tommy obviously started this game and although I got a Tornadus, my go was much slower. I still managed to take a 4 Prize lead through 2HKOing a Darkrai and taking out a couple of Chikoritas (again with Tornadus) but then he got set up.

Now when this deck sets up it wins. I couldn’t 1HKO any of his EXs, except for Kyogre, which he clearly wasn’t about to bench.

pokemon-paradijs.comI did however have a chance to win. He was rolling with Darkrai and I had 2 spots left on my bench. I was looking for a Zekrom-EX or Terrakion with which to take down Darkrai. I had a Zekrom-EX in my hand and used Portrait, benching the Zekrom before I did so, for fear of a Juniper. As it happened he had a Collector and nothing else.

Had I not benched the Zekrom I could have used Collector to grab Terrakion and Shaymin and, with the Energy already on the board, assure the win. As it was I didn’t have enough Energy to roll with Zekrom-EX and I lose the game from there.

Game 3

I went first, with a terrible hand and a lone Mewtwo start. I actually did have a PlusPower and Junk Arm, but had no DCE for the donk so I attached a single energy and passed.

Sensing the urgency with which he needed some Basics Tommy Junipered a not terrible hand to ensure he didn’t lose after only one turn. He hit no Basics and nothing that could fetch him a Basic.

On my turn I attach an energy and X Ball for the KO and the win.


Not the best way to win, but I had to take it. The record was now 6-4 in my favor and gave me a little breathing room. Phew! I was also 3-0 and a quick check of the resistance showed that I was guaranteed second if I lost. Which I probably would.

Round 4: Charles Barton (Darkrai / Hammers)

Charles is a lovely chap who I have played on numerous occasions (maybe 8) and have never beaten. If I even dare to come close (say for instance London States this year) I’ll hit a double tails on Dual Ball or something and then lose. He has also got himself in a position where he might just sneak qualification on Championship Points with a decent showing at Nats. He needed these points more than me.

Game 1

I won the flip here continuing my curious record of going first pretty much 50% of the time at almost every tournament (let’s hope I haven’t just jinxed it for Nats!) and was able to get a Zekrom-EX hitting for 50 on T1 on his Darkrai.

T2 I was then able to KO his Darkrai and it was all looking pretty tasty. I then took out 2 Smeargles, but disaster struck when he N’d me to 2 and I drew NOTHING. No Supporters, Energy, or anything useful. Just multitudes of useless Trainers or Pokémon I couldn’t use.

He then took 6 Prizes in a row to win 6-4. I actually could have taken out one more Smeargle toward the end here, but it wouldn’t have been enough so I tried to take down a Darkrai with a Zekrom instead. I failed.

Game 2

This game proceeded very similarly to the last one with me getting an early Zekrom-EX and taking out a Darkrai while he set up.

It’s worth noting here that in both of these games my unusual list did wonders in putting Charles off the scent. He Portraited a couple of times, doing clever sums, based off standard lists, to derive the chances of hitting a Supporter he needed. Unfortunately I only played 7 so it was irrelevant!

There was also a lovely moment where he mused on the chances of me playing a third Super Scoop Up when in fact I played the full quota. Half-way through this game he also realised that I didn’t play Eels and that this was just ZPST. Don’t think he was expecting that.

Unfortunately Charles is a very good player and when time was called shortly after I had not taken another prize. This meant that I had 2 turns to take out a Darkrai or else I’d be winning, but without more than 50% of my prizes taken the game wouldn’t count.

He had just hit m Zekrom for 120 damage (falling just shy of the KO) so I hit the Darkrai for 140. He then killed my Zekrom, taking all my Energy off the field, as well as retreating his Darkrai. I would need a Catcher and something to do 40 damage for the win.

pokemon-paradijs.comI got the Catcher and I got a PlusPower and I got a DCE and I got a Zekrom BLW and then, using one of my own Junipers and one from a Portrait, I drew my entire deck. And I couldn’t win. And it was all my own fault.

My last Junk Arm was prized, meaning I couldn’t do the extra 10 damage needed for KO. I should have known this but because I wasn’t expecting to win I wasn’t paying enough attention. I had also carelessly Junk Armed a Tornadus EX earlier in the game and, as my other one was prized, I could not get one of them up doing 60 damage. With either a Junk Arm or a Tornadus EX I would have won the game, but I can blame nobody but myself for not having them when I needed them.

(3-1) (2nd)

So there we have it. I would have fancied myself in sudden death (ZPST!), but I lost and it was my own fault. Charles played well and was a worthy winner of the whole thing. I genuinely wish him all the best for qualifying through Championship Points (or Top 4 of Nats). I really don’t want to meet him in the grinder!

I ended up second, completing my Victory Cups collection (adding to my first and 2 thirds) and maintaining my year long record of getting top 4 in every other Battle Roads. For some of you that might not be a great record, but how many of you top-cut a Battle Road with Kyurem? Or ZPST Post-Darkrai? Yeah!

The final standings (3-1 or better) were:

1st: Charles Barton (Darkrai / Smeargle / Hammers) (4-0)

2nd: Ross Gilbert (ZPST w/ Terrakion) (3-1)

3rd: George Boon (Darkrai / Tornadus / Mewtwo) (3-1)

4th: Thomas Truman (Empoleon / Terrakion) (3-1)

5th: Tommy Roberts (Meganium) (3-1)

I’m going to leave you with 2 lessons I learned from this tournament:

1. Unusual lists puts people off!

endlessgroove.comObviously rogue decks give you an advantage because your opponent doesn’t know what you’re doing but even if you play a well-known deck, having something different about your list can be the difference.

For instance, the standard at the moment is for people to play 3 N (at least, going by what I’ve seen at tournament and from lists on here, if I’m wrong, gutted), so after playing your third your opponent will play as if they’re not going to get N’d. If you play 4 though…

I had this with my lack of Supporters here (which can backfire massively if your Smeargle comes home empty handed mind), my large Super Scoop Up count, my double Tornadus EX and so on. It’s an unusual ZPST list and as much as it wasn’t as great as I hoped, it did give some nice surprises.

2. Pay attention!

Put simply: Good players know what’s in their prizes. They also know how much of every cared they’ve used, how many are left in their deck and so on. They then plan accordingly. I am often like this, but in the final (the final!) I let my guard slip and played very casually.

I had a LOT of fun in that last game and both myself and Charles enjoyed it immensely, but I’m sure I could have won had I saved either a Junk Arm OR a Tornadus. It was purely carelessness of my part.

Is ZPST any good?

pokemon-paradijs.comI suppose this is the question I should really finish with. I want to say yes, but I fear I can’t recommend anyone playing this for Nats. It can donk beautifully, it’s great against Tornadus EX (which many people play), and it can rush to a great number of wins.

Unfortunately it’s also bad news bears if it doesn’t go off quick, Terrakion does not fit so neatly in here as other decks, you need several low HP Pokémon (which could lead to you being donked instead), and it’s very susceptible to mid-late game disruption (I’m looking at you N).

I have beaten a lot of decks with this in testing from CMT to Eels to Quad Terrakion to Darkrai variants, but I’ve also seen up close the pitfalls when it doesn’t work to its full potential and for that reason I’m unable to recommend it whole-heatedly.


If anyone’s going to UK Nats well, you probably already know me to be honest, but I’ll see you all there.

If you’re going to Worlds, I’m all booked for that but not qualified due to CONSTANTLY whiffing and or bubbling cut under bizarre circumstances (I could have 40+ CPs, I have 19), so I’ll see you in the grinder.

Everyone else, follow me on Twitter: @thewossy

(I’m afraid it is private and you’ll have to ask to add me, I’m a teacher and the students found the Twitter and started being idiots, hence the private. Don’t worry, I’ll say yes.)

P.S. Check out my new Pokémon TCG podcast which I’m starting up!

Reader Interactions

30 replies

  1. theo Seeds

    Great report and article, but what happened to Top Cut?

    And Adam, what’s with all of the articles disappearing?

    • Max Douglas  → theo

      I think the cheater article was taken down because of the content, has any other article been removed lately?

      • Gage  → Max

        Yeah, that article really made me mad. I have no idea why it got approved. Side note even though I gave it an immediate -1 the like count went up anyway. I sincerely hope it was coincidence. :/ Anyway, I hope the article is gone for good and that not too many people saw it and nothing similar happens. Thanks to that article, I am going to have to hawkeye every single opponent from Round 1 onward regardless of their skill level. Kinda takes the fun out of the event knowing that my opponent will likely have been provided with an abundance of info on how to cheat.

        • theo Seeds  → Gage

          Well, I remember someone saying that if a player wants to learn to cheat, that player would learn to cheat anyway. SixPrizes is going to help that, but the player could have another source. And now we know how to stop it. I don’t think it was too big a deal.

        • Gage  → theo

          True, but I still don’t agree with the article being posted. I think the article would have/will cause more harm than good. Especially in juniors and seniors.

      • theo Seeds  → Max

        The report by Collin Coyle Brinkmeyer has gone missing.

        (EDIT) And the cheater one is still up too, comments have been disabled and it’s invisible to Front Page viewers however.

    • Ross Gilbert  → theo

      Size of the tournament. We had 15 masters, this means no top cut. Had there been 16 we’d have had Top 4!

      (We could have had Top 2 but as this is usually pointless the organiser elected not to)

    • Adam Capriola  → theo

      Many thought the cheaters article was in bad taste to the community, and Collin requested his articles be taken down because of some names he mentioned.

      • collin  → Adam

        yes unfortunately I was requested my articles be taken down but I understand why i was requested to be taken down (the reason adam stated) so it is all good. I am going to try and get out an article post nats… nats report ?!?!? lol XD maybe… maybe haha

  2. Robin Love

    ERL says screw your pachi,shaymin and smeargle im sorry but entai raikou legend still is getting more present in this format becuase of the use of smeargle and i dont aprove of donk decks but thats not the point just be careful of ERL it can take alot of prizes of your pokemon powered pokemon in a heart beat

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → Robin

      Haven’t seen ERL in a deck since 2010.

      You go through all the pain of getting it out, KO a Smeargle, then give up 2 Prizes to Terrakion. That’s what would happen if anyone used the card.

      • Robin Love  → Jak

        not entirely true i teched it in my empoleon and its been doing fine i bumped up the pokemon communications to 3 and replaced the prisim with rainbow and it still works i get it just fine when i need to so its just on your t/s/s and your deck

        • Cabd  → Robin

          Yeah…. Okay then. If you say so. I won’t be playing it, that’s for sure. It’s a waste of two slots for a deck you won’t see very often.

  3. Gage

    I liked your article and the rogue decks you ran, but I am confused as to why all of your games are best of three at a Battle Roads. Also, I think you would have benefited from running 4 Random Receiver rather than only 2 if you were worried about Smeargle. Either way +1

    • Myles O’Neill  → Gage

      In a lot of countries outside of the USA all tournaments run Bo3 format in all rounds – since the player base is small enough to do this. Personally I think its great, best of three is much better for the game than best of one and makes it more about skill and less about luck.

      • Gage  → Myles

        That’s awesome! I had no idea other countries did that. It’s a shame we can’t do that in the U.S. since States and Regionals would easily be two day events lol. If it were possible, I would be all for it however. XD

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → Gage

      Depends on the size of the tournament. The first one in Ross’s report (Sutton Coldfield) was one game only in Swiss. Sheffield was smaller.

      Best of 3 is pretty rare in the UK now. I don’t think it’s happened at any of the tournies I have been to this year.

    • Ross Gilbert  → Gage

      Cheers dir. You make a good point. Basically, i didn’t want to play too few supporters as then RR wouldn’t get me anything after a few turns. So, i wanted no more than 9 slots for supporters and RR and no fewer than 7 supporters. Hence, 2 RR. Just the numbers that came out in testing.

      Also, i DID still screw over Smeargle lots :D

  4. Oliver Barnett

    Nice article Ross, suprised you didn’t take my offer on Quad Entei back in may tbh. Oh well at least at nats you will be able to have revenge on me for stealing some of your CP from London.

    Either way I will be very easy to notice at nats hope to see you there!

    ~ Oli (note this is the nickname i prefer lol)

  5. Joshua Pikka

    Was I the only one who thought it was, “Whoop there it is”?

    • Ross Gilbert  → Joey

      Honestly, i found the first video i could. It would be nice though if you could comment on the article, rather than the quality of the video i use to back up my jokey / pun title.

  6. Aaron Minjoot

    Just wanna say I’m enjoying the podcast, Ross. Really entertaining, I do hope it gets the attention it deserves. Maybe put it up on Youtube? Just audio is great, I too enjoy listening to something when I’m walking about in my room or anywhere at all. +1

    • Ross Gilbert  → Aaron

      I did it because i couldn’t find a good, short but sweet, weekly podcast. Hence the audio format.

      Luckily though PokemanDan has very kindly offered to get a video version (just a picture and sound, not a full-on video) on his youtube channel.

      Also looking to get it on itunes :D

      Cheers for listening dude

      • Aaron Minjoot  → Ross

        Glad to hear of it, and good luck! If all else fails, well at least you’ve got ONE regular listener over here. ;D

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